Are You A Christian Single?

I have occasionally been asked for recommendations for helpful books for Christian singles to read. I wish I could give such a recommendation based on my own experience while single. I did not find these books until after I was married, but they have enriched me and have particular value for Christians who are unmarried.

Find your purpose in life in the purpose of God in the world.

Find your purpose in life in the purpose of God in the world.

Through Gates of Splendor
By Elisabeth Elliot

I could give many reasons to read this book, whether you are single or not. This is the biographical account of five young missionaries—Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Roger Youderian, Ed McCully, and Pete Fleming—who were killed by the native tribe they were trying to evangelize in Ecuador on January 8, 1956. These were young men who were not satisfied with the status quo for young people and lived and died for a higher purpose. They did not count their lives dear nor waste them pursuing comfort, convenience, pleasure, and safety.

As a college student in 1949, Jim wrote the words in his journal that have lived on after him: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Elisabeth was married to Jim at the time he was slain and she wrote this book and went on to write many others. They met while in college but were not married until after Jim had gone to the mission field. This book is a love story as well as Jim and Elisabeth were seeking God’s will in their lives. It serves as a good introduction to their story that will be filled in more by the next books.

Finding the purpose of patience and the power of waiting on God.

Find the purpose of patience and the power of waiting on God.

The Journals of Jim Elliot
By Elisabeth Elliot

This book is a collection of journal entries Jim began in college and continued until his death. They give insight into his mind and heart on a number of issues. One of those issues was his relationship to Elisabeth. The waiting involved had to be difficult and his journals show he was not stoical. He struggled and wrestled with the delay, but he ultimately believed it to be God’s will and drew power from Him to be sustained.

Young Christians today live in a world both saturated and obsessed with instant gratification. There is no value in patient waiting and the world’s power is pushing you to jump. Everything is at your fingertips. Why wait?

If you pay close attention, you will learn some ways to wait in these books. If you are looking to nothing beyond what are you waiting for, you will not wait. Many young Christian adults who are unmarried find themselves in some estranged place between childhood and adulthood. They have finished school but aren’t married and don’t know what to do with themselves. Too many view it as a time to be free, goof off, and play the field. It is a transitional time, but not one to be wasted. It is a time of preparation, but that is not all. It is a time of freedom, freedom to serve (1 Corinthians 7:32-34).

Don’t be obsessed with getting married so that you neglect service now. Be immersed in the Word and will of God and redeem the time to honor Him with your life. Know that marriage in the Lord is great happiness and worth the wait.

Jim Elliot was also an example of biblical manliness. Such examples are increasingly hard to find today. He was athletic, smart, articulate, and a natural leader. He could have used his gifts and charm to achieve uncommon levels of success in the world. He chose rather to go to the Ecuadorian jungle in obscurity. He was disciplined and when he participated in sports, he did not do so to win trophies and honors. He did so as a way to train his body for the rigors of missionary life. You can read more about this in his biography: The Shadow of the Almighty.

Find the Lordship of Christ in matters of the heart.

Find the Lordship of Christ in matters of the heart.

Passion & Purity
By Elisabeth Elliot

This book gives Elisabeth’s perspective on her relationship with Jim. Biblical principle is the guiding theme of this book and she illustrates with many examples from her own experience. If we search this book for the one thing she has to say about relationships and pursuing marriage, it would distill to one word—obedience.

The subtitle is: Learning to bring your love life under Christ’s control. That is the issue. Hollywood and Disney tell you, “Just follow your heart,” and “The heart wants what the heart wants,” and “You can’t help who you love.” Are you going to submit to the Lord of Heaven and Earth who designed marriage and designed you for it? Or, are you going to follow a multitude in pursuit of the Greco-Roman ideals of romance. The two worldviews do not walk together because they are not agreed. Which way are you going to go?

This book will help you think about some of these issues from Scripture.

Find another way to see relationships that is not self-centered and indulgent.

Find another way to see relationships that is not self-centered and indulgent.

I Kissed Dating Goodbye
By Joshua Harris

Harris used to be that son of the homeschool guy, but this book really got him known. And for good reason. His book is countercultural and controversial in many places. Still today I find people have strong reactions to it. Many have never read it and dismiss it immediately with disgust. If you have heard some hype that colored your opinion negative, I say forget about that and read the book yourself. As you do so, don’t sift it through the filter of peer opinion. Think about it carefully and filter it through Scripture.

This book will challenge you on many points. I was smitten when I read it over my own failures and selfishness in my youth. Harris shows the selfishness and self-centeredness inherent in the recreational dating and relationships that are so prevalent today. One of the challenges here is to think and act deliberately in this area rather than living in the moment and constantly seeking casual fun.

The world views it all as harmless and just having fun and just being young, etc. Harris cuts through that to the truth of the emotional toll paid by this whole system. Adults that have come through it, seen their children come through it, and young people who are going through it know this is true. There is a high debt to be paid for going down this road.

I hope this helps in some way. My only intention is to help and be a blessing to you. I got a lot of things wrong at that time in my own life. I suffered pain because of it. Even worse, I inflicted a lot of pain on others through my pride and selfishness. There is a better way. I want better things for you and for my own children. But the only way to have it is to walk in God’s way.

    All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies. ~ Psalm 25:10
    The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. ~ Psalm 37:23

About Jeff Short

  • anitachamblee

    As we read Elliot’s bio again last year, I was bothered by his commitment/noncommitment to Elizabeth for such a long period of time. He would tell her that he loved her, but couldn’t marry her! He seemed to have such a conviction that God wanted him to be single, but, it seems to me, he played with Elizabeth’s heart. I suppose as a mother of daughters my dander was up that any man would do that and then as a mother of sons, I was quick to point out to them that they should never tell a young woman that they loved her unless marriage was imminent. It did give us lots to talk about! Maybe we have read so many purity and courtship books that anything else seems somewhat false. Do you have any thoughts on this?

    • shortthoughts

      I agree completely that a man should never toy with a woman’s emotions nor lead her along. Neither should he declare love for her unless marriage is the plan. From all of Elisabeth Elliot’s books I have read, I don’t believe that either she or Jim thought that was going on with them.

      Have you read Passion & Purity? That book gives a lot more of her thoughts and feelings in the time leading up to their marriage. I can’t find my copy right now, but I think she has chapters on patience and waiting and seeking God’s will. And that was really the issue with them. It seems Jim was always honest that he believed love for God and God’s demand on his life were foremost. From her writings, Elisabeth seems to agree.

      As he became confirmed in his call to the mission field, he felt that getting established in that mission would require of him things that meant he could not be married, at least for a time. He wasn’t putting her off because he was fickle, interested in someone else, or didn’t want to be married. Perhaps he could have handled the situation better, and maybe the delay didn’t need to be as long as it was (6 years from when they first met until they were married 1947 – 1953). But the reasons he did what he did are important and are no dishonor to his integrity.

      I think their relationship and circumstances are at least a little unusual. I don’t think they are a cookie-cutter, but the principles are important. Love for God and His claim on our life should be foremost (Luke 14:25-36; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 2 Corinthians 5:15; Revelation 2:4). The patient waiting I wrote of in the post is more in reference to being content to waiting in singleness for the right marriage “in the Lord” as opposed to the recreational dating and relationships so prevalent in our youth culture.

      I think their story is compelling, though I haven’t given a lot of thought to their parents’ perspectives on it all. I am sure that it was probably a difficult thing to walk through in their shoes. I think they struggled with more than just the marriage issues. If I remember correctly, Jim’s mom questioned why he would not just stay in the U. S. and become a pastor. Sadly, there aren’t a lot of Christian parents who are Hannahs and say, “For this child I prayed: and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him: Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD” (1 Samuel 1:27-28).

      Well, I ended up saying a lot more than I thought I would. I don’t know if I answered your question though.

  • anitachamblee

    As we read Elliot's bio again last year, I was bothered by his commitment/noncommitment to Elizabeth for such a long period of time. He would tell her that he loved her, but couldn't marry her! He seemed to have such a conviction that God wanted him to be single, but, it seems to me, he played with Elizabeth's heart. I suppose as a mother of daughters my dander was up that any man would do that and then as a mother of sons, I was quick to point out to them that they should never tell a young woman that they loved her unless marriage was imminent. It did give us lots to talk about! Maybe we have read so many purity and courtship books that anything else seems somewhat false. Do you have any thoughts on this?

  • shortthoughts

    I agree completely that a man should never toy with a woman's emotions nor lead her along. Neither should he declare love for her unless marriage is the plan. From all of Elisabeth Elliot's books I have read, I don't believe that either she or Jim thought that was going on with them.

    Have you read Passion & Purity? That book gives a lot more of her thoughts and feelings in the time leading up to their marriage. I can't find my copy right now, but I think she has chapters on patience and waiting and seeking God's will. And that was really the issue with them. It seems Jim was always honest that he believed love for God and God's demand on his life were foremost. From her writings, Elisabeth seems to agree.

    As he became confirmed in his call to the mission field, he felt that getting established in that mission would require of him things that meant he could not be married, at least for a time. He wasn't putting her off because he was fickle, interested in someone else, or didn't want to be married. Perhaps he could have handled the situation better, and maybe the delay didn't need to be as long as it was (6 years from when they first met until they were married 1947 – 1953). But the reasons he did what he did are important and are no dishonor to his integrity.

    I think their relationship and circumstances are at least a little unusual. I don't think they are a cookie-cutter, but the principles are important. Love for God and His claim on our life should be foremost (Luke 14:25-36; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 2 Corinthians 5:15; Revelation 2:4). The patient waiting I wrote of in the post is more in reference to being content to waiting in singleness for the right marriage “in the Lord” as opposed to the recreational dating and relationships so prevalent in our youth culture.

    I think their story is compelling, though I haven't given a lot of thought to their parents' perspectives on it all. I am sure that it was probably a difficult thing to walk through in their shoes. I think they struggled with more than just the marriage issues. If I remember correctly, Jim's mom questioned why he would not just stay in the U. S. and become a pastor. Sadly, there aren't a lot of Christian parents who are Hannahs and say, “For this child I prayed: and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him: Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD” (1 Samuel 1:27-28).

    Well, I ended up saying a lot more than I thought I would. I don't know if I answered your question though.

  • anitachamblee

    I guess I need to pull out Passion and Purity to see what Elizabeth’s thoughts were…. I typically look at things though a mother’s eyes and get all worked up when I feel a young lady is toyed with…

  • anitachamblee

    I guess I need to pull out Passion and Purity to see what Elizabeth's thoughts were…. I typically look at things though a mother's eyes and get all worked up when I feel a young lady is toyed with…

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Are You A Christian Single? : Short Thoughts -- Topsy.com()